For all of the hockey fans on campus, it was a treat to watch the West Chester Men’s Ice Hockey team host Penn State University Berks Campus on a warm Friday night at Iceline.
Going into this game, the Golden Rams have struggled to start the season, winning only one out of their last six games played while losing five straight. In the players eyes, it was a must win for the team on home ice. It was not going to come easy, though. Their opponent had the clear-cut advantage going into the game with four more wins on their record while averaging three and a half goals per game.
The team came to play, and they played in a big way.
There was a substantial amount of energy and animosity being exchanged between the players throughout the game. There was no shortage of heavy hitting, penalties, and goal scoring, at least from one end of the ice.
The West Chester defense looked stellar Friday night. They took away quality scoring chances while not allowing a single goal despite being on the penalty kill three times.
Forward Manny Billones scored his fifth goal of the season in the second period Friday night which ended up being the game winner. From a tough angle, Billones snipe it past goaltender Justin Golia, leaving him frozen in the crease. It was without a doubt one of the biggest goals of the season for him thus far. The team took the momentum from that goal and enjoyed the ride the rest of the way.
The hockey flow of Captain James Davis was not the only thing on point that night. His game was too, registering two points on the night including a power play goal late in the third period, sealing the win for West Chester University. The team needed a boost, and the leader of the team was the perfect guy to give it to them while showing exemplary leadership skills on the ice.
Right winger Justin Finnerty scored a highlight reel goal on the breakaway, giving the Golden Rams a 2-0 lead in the second period.
Center Michael Dorfschneider was a big part of the scoring as well, tallying the primary assist on Finnerty and Davis’ goals. Without his pass through center ice, Finnerty’s goal would not have happened.
Though he did not see much work, it was a big night for starting goaltender Michael Rice as he recorded his first shutout of the season. The numbers do not speak for themselves. Though he only made 13 saves, Rice stopped some very high quality chances from Penn State Berks. Though it left the opponents empty and frustrated, it brought a huge sigh of relief to Rice and his teammates in front of him.
Rice could not take all the credit for the shutout. He credits teammate and friend Shane McGinty for bailing him out of trouble with some great defensive stops throughout the game. McGinty also added to the offense by tallying an assist on the final goal.
When Rice came off the ice, there was a huge smile on his face as his teammates handed him the game puck for his stellar performance. When asked about the importance of this game after a slow start to the season, the starting goaltender had this to say:
“We had six tough losses on the road and we just wanted to come back and finally find a win in that home barn. It’s really important to us.”
The team skated on the ice with intentions to turn their season around, and they took care of business. After a hard fought win, the happy players exited the ice with their sticks in the air and smiles on their face as they celebrated a much needed victory with their fellow teammates and coaches.
The West Chester Golden Rams ended their five game skid with a 3-0 shutout against the Penn State Berks Nittany Lions. The team still has plenty of games to turn their season around, and they started off on the right foot with a big win Friday night. They conclude their home and home series against Penn State Berks Saturday evening, and look ahead to playing Lebanon Valley college the following week.
Thomas Henry is a third-year student majoring in English. He can be reached at TH835666@wcupa.edu.